Tenure: Longtime Employees at Florida Companies
Longtime employees at several iconic Florida companies reflect on their personal histories — and their companies'.
In 1972, Ted Arison launched Carnival Cruise Line with a single, used ship that ran aground off the coast of Miami on its maiden voyage. After that rough start, he found success marketing all-inclusive cruise vacations to middle-class passengers, eventually turning over the reins to his son, Micky Arison, who took Carnival Corp. public in 1987.
By the early 1990s, Carnival was operating four ships in the Caribbean when Giora Israel, then general manager of a beach resort in the Bahamas, joined the company to help it expand to Europe.
“Although I was born in Israel, I’m a German citizen, and I had worked in Europe. I understood Europe,” he says. “My first foreign trip for Carni-val was to Paris. We tried to create a joint venture with ClubMed, but it didn’t work out.”
Carnival ultimately built its business in Europe by buying European cruise lines, including the United Kingdom’s Cunard, Germany’s AIDA Cruises and Italy’s Costa Cruises. The company is now truly global, with 10 brands sailing to more than 700 ports in nearly 140 countries and territories.
Since 2008, Israel has overseen Carnival’s efforts to create destination ports such as Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic, a company-owned port “village” operated exclusively for Carnival brands and their ships. Over the years, Carnival has invested more than $1 billion in about 40 port projects worldwide. “We started very small, but today we are the largest port developer in the world,” he says.
Israel keeps a sign in his office reminding him that developing ports is a means to an end rather than a primary task. The sign reads: “Giora, if you end up building, financing, designing and operating a port, you failed” — meaning he’d rather have local governments develop the infrastructure.
“It’s to remind myself that our objective really is to build new ships, fill those ships and make money,” he says.